Tokebi the Skull Artist:
Tokebi (Korean: 도깨비 “ddokkaebi”), is a Guatemalan artist, illustrator and university professor, who rose to popularity when his social media channel was discovered by Brann Dailor, drummer of the heavy metal band Mastodon who requested Tokebi a design for the poster of their UK & Europe 2019 tour. Tokebi is known for his bright neon colors and quirky line work, mixing retro and sci-fi influences, and using skulls and skeletons as main characters. He is alson known for the nickname “Tokebi the Skull Artist” or “The Skull Wizard”.
Thanks to social media, most of Tokebi’s career has evolved online, with his artwork being sent as far as Australia, Netherlands, Argentina, Korea and Japan. Most of Tokebi’s work is in the music scene and is especially popular among rock bands, rappers and djs. Tokebi has created numerous skulls and neon designs for CD and LP covers for music bands around the world.
Tokebi was born in the city of Guatemala (Guatemala) in 1981. Tokebi the artist studied in a Opus Dei Catholic school. His penchant for drawing skulls caused trouble at school, on several occasions nearly resulting in expulsion. It was at this time that Tokebi took interest in rock music. One of his defining moments was listening to heavy metal band Metallica for the first time at age seven. Since then, his taste in music has developed towards rockabilly music and instrumental rock. Later Tokebi would integrate himself into the music scene, collaborating with bands through his art. Another defining time in Tokebi’s art was the contact with the Mortal Kombat video game when he was just 12. In 2003 Tokebi moved to Chicago to pursue his dream of becoming a game developer, but a lack of economical resources pushed him to study multimedia design, which he applies in his visual art compositions. In 2010 he moved to Seoul, South Korea to study the language and immerse himself in the culture in order to gather information he could use in his art. During this period, Tokebi the artist also completed a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the Korea Development Institute. Always an Asian devote, Tokebi used Korea as is HQ and traveled frequently to other parts of Asia to gather inspiration, but it was Japan and Korea, with their neon lights and vibrant culture that caught his attention. This, together with the old western culture of the United States, became the main inspiration for his work.
Professionally, Bernal Aguilar goes by the name of Tokebi, a Korean word that means “Goblin” and refers to a creature from Korean mythology. Tokebi is an ugly fiend that rewards good deeds and punishes those evil; to use an analogy, Tokebi rewards people with his art. Tokebi art career started in 2010, in the streets of Seoul, where he used to sell his prints. Later, in 2014 and 2015, he participated and founded an artistic space for international and Korean artists “Nothing Serious I” and “Nothing Serious II”. In 2018 he also participated in the exhibition “Etereo Estereo” held in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. However, most of Tokebi’s work is related to branding and music, especially to the rock scene, creating logos, flyers, CD and LP covers, LP sleeves, posters and video animations. Tokebi is also a professor, he taught Spanish and English while living in Korea, and is currently teaching Graphic Design, Multimedia and Illustration at the Istmo University in Guatemala.
Tokebi the Skull Artist
Although Tokebi is an illustrator and can work with other ideas and characters, Tokebi is fascinated with skulls.
Despite they’re based on violence and the celebration of death (memento mori), Tokebi skulls have transformed from a mere celebration of the macabre (thanks to his addiction to mortal kombat and the story itself of the characters and overall game) to his own story and experience in which a link between two worlds, the living and the undead is always open, each of them with their own skills and rules. Tokebi skulls are more similar to the aliens of the 1988’s film ‘They Live” than the actually death or Grim Reaper himself. Tokebi Skulls are a mixture of Mayan and Asian mysticism and mythology with the prowess of the Western Civilization, hence the use of cyberpunk, vaporwave and steampunk trends in Tokebi’s work. Psychedelia has been a part of the Tokebi’s main color scheme, hence the use of third black light colors, used back in the 60’s and also neon colors based on palettes used back in the 80s.